Bastille Day, France’s annual celebration that commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution, is almost here. In case you need to refresh your memory of basic world history: On July 14, 1789, a group of French revolutionaries stormed a prison in Paris that was an infamous symbol of royal authority. While as far as prison breaks go it was fairly small — only seven prisoners liberated — it is widely acknowledged to be the catalyzing event that kicked off the French Revolution, led to the overthrow of Louis XVI, and generally transformed the world with the revolutionary ideals of Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité.
This year, July 14 will mark the 226th anniversary of this momentous occasion in the history of France and the world. While le quatorze juillet is a national holiday in France that will be publicly celebrated with parades, fireworks, and other festivities, no matter where you live, you can always hold your own private Bastille celebration by watching some of the great movies that have been made about this time period.
Interestingly, there is a surprising dearth of films that deal directly with the historical events of the French Revolution. However, there are many movies that are set in this general time period, as well as films in which the events of the French Revolution play some type of role in the plot. Keeping that in mind, here are five successful movies that involve the French Revolution.